Salt in Mark
I've been looking at the salt sayings in Mark, and I would
appreciate feedback on the following idea.
Mark 9:47-50 It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one
eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into [Gehenna], where "'their
worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' Everyone will be
salted with fire. "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can
you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with
In the middle of the group of "salt" sayings we have - "Salt is good,
but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?" This
is found in different contexts in Mark, Matthew, and Luke.
Matthew 5:13-16 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses
its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for
anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the
light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people
light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand,
and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your
light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise
your Father in heaven.
Luke 14:31 "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another
king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with
ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty
thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other
is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same
way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my
disciple. "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be
made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure
pile; it is thrown out. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Apparently this middle salt saying in Mark was circulating as a free
unit of oral tradition, or as part of a list of sayings, and Mark,
Matthew, and Luke all picked it up and used it in different ways.
Because of that, it is often said that the original context can not be
In Leviticus (2:13), salt is something that is added to sacrifices to
make them acceptable to God. When Jesus says "Salt is good, but if it
loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?" I think this
refers to the Pharisees having lost their good teachings. We could also
compare this to leaven which was something that should not be in
sacrifices. Jesus warns of the "leaven", that is the bad teachings, of
the Pharisees. (Mark 8:14-16 KJV) "Now the disciples had forgotten to
take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.
And he charged them, saying, 'Take heed, beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.'"
The "salt" sayings in Mark end with "Have salt in yourselves, and be at
peace with each other." This could be read - "Have 'acceptableness to
God' in yourselves, and be at peace with one another". Paul echoes this
in Roman's 12 (New Jerusalem). "I urge you, then, brothers, remembering
the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
dedicated and acceptable to God; that is the kind of worship for you, as
sensible people. Do not model your behavior on the contemporary world,
but let the renewing of your mind transform you, so that you may discern
for yourselves what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and
mature." And then in Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full
of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer
everyone. Paul is saying the "salt" that makes one acceptable to God is
in you, not in those other sorts of sacrifices offered by the Pharisees.
How plausible does it seem that in the earliest tradition it was
originally the Pharisees that had lost their saltiness?
Thanks for any and all help,
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